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AARP AARP States North Dakota Livable Communities

Creating livable communities in North Dakota

Livable Drawing
Boffeli, Seth

Approximately 45 million Americans (or 13.7%) are age 65 or older. In North Dakota, nearly 17% of residents are 65 or older. By 2034, the United States will — for the first time ever — be a country comprised of more older adults than of children.

Our work with AARP Livable Communities supports the efforts of North Dakota’s neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas to be great places for people of all ages. Communities should provide safe, walkable streets; age-friendly housing and transportation options; access to needed services; and opportunities for residents of all ages to participate in community life. Read on to learn more.

Missing Middle Housing

Middle income housing
Jim Burger/Jim Burger

We hear regularly from older adults who want to age at home in their communities. That means it’s important to incorporate affordable, walkable, small- to mid-sized housing into our cities and towns.

The 2022 Housing Assessment report from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency noted, "…the state's focus needs to shift from building as fast as possible to addressing the age of its housing stock, limited housing options and affordability barriers."

Read more about how AARP ND is helping to meet the needs of our growing population of 65 and older residents.

Transportation
The ability to move independently within your community as you age is important. Because driving a car can become physically or economically unfeasible, public options are vital. Paratransit ensures riders with disabilities and those over 70 years old have safe, affordable transportation option to appointments and the activities that help them thrive.

When a shortfall threatened to eliminate service outside of the normal paratransit operations (called non-ADA service) provided by Bis-Man Transit, both the Bismarck and Mandan City Commission provided funding. AARP volunteers actively supported funding for Bis-Man Transit, sending emails, providing testimony and attending city council meetings on both sides of the river. Read more here.

Community Challenge Grants

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In 2023, AARP ND made the largest investment of grant dollars to date through the Community Challenge grant program giving $67,390 to six projects as part of $3.6 million awarded nationwide. Grantees implement quick-action projects that help communities become more livable by improving public places; transportation; housing; digital connections; diversity, equity and inclusion; and more, with an emphasis on the needs of adults age 50 and older. Learn more here.

Walkability
In too many communities, people can’t safely walk to where they need or want to go due to a lack sidewalks, crosswalks or other safety features that make streets safe for pedestrians and drivers.

A walk audit is a simple activity in which an individual or a team observes and evaluates the walkability of a location to document how and if pedestrians can safely travel along a street, navigate an intersection and get from point A to B, C and so on.

We did this in West Fargo this past year as part of the work being led by two of our most energetic volunteers, Kathi Schwan and Lana Rakow along with staff from Walk2Connect. The report notes opportunities to bring in more community partners and to work with city officials and organizations to make improvements that range from new zoning to trimming bushes along sidewalks. See the report: West Fargo Walk Audit

About AARP North Dakota
Contact information and more from your state office. Learn what we are doing to champion social change and help you live your best life.